Craighead Co. Deputy Cleared in Taser-Related Death

November 9, 2006 - Posted at 5:19 p.m. CST

CRAIGHEAD COUNTY, AR - A Craighead County Sheriff's Deputy involved in a taser incident in which a Region 8 man died has been cleared to return to work. Officers were called on October 4th to the residence of 50-year-old Michael Templeton of Bay on a loud music complaint....when he became combative, Deputy Charles Leech used his taser to subdue him.

Now, more than a month later, Deputy Leech is back on the job and authorities still aren't sure why Templeton died.

A letter from prosecutor Brent Davis clears Deputy Leech from any improper use of force in the death of Templeton.

"Since this incident he was off work for roughly a week and then we were told this was going to be an extended process. So we brought him back to the office in uniform, no firearm and he has been working here in the office," said Sheriff Jack McCann.

McCann says this tragic incident was merely an officer doing his job and although Deputy Leech is back at work.  It will be weeks, maybe months before this issue is resolved.

"The medical examiner in little rock said he didn't want to issue an opinion until the taser itself was tested and certified within being in the guidelines of functionality," said McCann.

The taser will be forwarded to Washington where it will be examined by State Police.  It's still unclear what caused Templeton's death...authorities are still waiting on toxicology and autopsy reports.

Sheriff McCann says with the small staff that his department has, Deputy Leech's return is more than a welcomed one.

"Everybody has been really upset, especially Deputy Leech.  And this was a tragic event and it is very emotionally draining for an incident like that to happen.  We still don't know why this man died, why Mr. Templeton died and until we know for sure, it will be an issue for everyone," said McCann.

Sheriff McCann says leach will return to active duty on his staff Sunday night.